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Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

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to its example being followed by Prussia and other German
States ; and the momentous transfer of educational authority from
Church to State in which Germany was to be the pioneer among
the nations of Europe was already in progress.


The movement for the wider spread of education in France,
which came with the Reformation, was short-lived. In 1560 the
Protestant nobles in the States General of Orleans addressed a
memorial to the King, praying for the institution of a system of
primary schools which all children should be compelled to attend
and in which religious instruction would be given in the mother
tongue. But with the eclipse of Protestantism the desire for
popular education which such a memorial expressed almost
wholly disappeared, and very little attention was paid to the
educational needs of the common people for the next two centuries.
The Catholic Church, it is true, did not altogether neglect the
children of the poor; but apart from charity schools, where a small
number of pupils learned to read and write, not much was dortfe
in the way of real education till the foundation of the Institute
of the Brethren of the Christian Schools by St. John Baptist de la
Salle at Rheims in 1682. And even on the most favourable estimate
the contribution made by the Christian Brothers to educational
progress was insignificant. Despite the introduction of simul-
taneous instruction and of definite training for teachers, their
general methods were retrograde. The teachers were bound
under rules as rigid and conservative as those of the Jesuits, while
their discipline was conceived in a spirit of asceticism which made
for a degree of harshness and repression unknown in the Jesuit
schools. At the Revolution, after they had been at work for a
century, there were only 920 teaching Brothers and 36,000 pupils.

The efforts for the improvement of higher education in the
Sixteenth Century were scarcely more successful. The ideals of
Ramus did indeed find .partial realization in the reforms forced
on the university of Paris by Henry IV in 1600. Under happier
conditions this intervention of the State might have formed a
precedent for the gradual transfer of educational administration